Life's Little Moments

By dbifulco

The Robber

While this is not a particularly good photo, I wanted to post it because it captures a very interesting behavior on the part of the bird (a Gray Catbird in the mimic thrush family).  

To back up a bit, this stretch of walkway is the home of a colony of Great Golden DIgger Wasps who excavate burrows to house their young.  They hunt  katydids which they inject with a paralyzing agent, take into their burrow and then lay an egg in.  The larva then feeds on the "host" katydid.  Gross, but that's nature.  These huge gentle wasps always, without exception, leave their paralyzed prey on the ground outside of the burrow while they go in to make sure things are ready.  Well, this clever catbird has apparently figured out that if he/she waits in the nearby cherry tree, he can see the wasp deposit the katydid, fly down and grab it.  The hapless and extremely unlucky katydid will then become nestling food for the catbird brood.  I watched this catbird repeatedly rob the wasps, once going so far as to chase a wasp in order to force it to drop its prey.  I've read about this behavior with certain birds and Cicada Killer Wasps, but have never witnessed it.

So, since I am a wannabe Ethologist (study of animal behavior) this had to be my shot today.  If you look closely you will see some blurry orange blobs in the image - these are the wasps circling the bird.  I'm not sure what you have to do to get one of these wasps to sting, but apparently it is more than robbing the pantry.  I've sat right next to a burrow photographing them and never had one try to bite or sting me.  

I had a really long chat with bestie, Peg, this morning - it was so good to catch up. She and her husband just flew from their winter home in Arizona to their summer home in upstate New York and are now quarantining.  We talked a lot about what is happening in the world - the pandemic, the upcoming US election, China (she lived there for over 10 years), and the fact that racism is apparently alive and thriving in so much of the world which is very sad.  Also speculated on when we all might be able to get together again - we're thinking next year.  It might be sooner if only people would take this seriously and stop behaving in reckless and selfish ways.  

Today is our Independence Day.  I am looking at it with new eyes right now, realizing that it was only a day of celebration for white people - certainly native American Indians and people of color didn't suddenly achieve "freedom" on this day.  

Tomorrow is going to be in the mid-90's but it is also a big Blip milestone for me, so I will be out trying to find something worthy of 9 years to blip.  Stay tuned...

Be safe... be loving.


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